Covid-19 shrinks India’s material aspirations, makes health the top priority

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The covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the lifestyle and wealth aspirations of Indians. According to the third edition of BankBazaar’s Aspiration Index report, the national aspiration index for 2020 stands at 79.9, having dropped seven points from 86.9 last year.

The survey had 650 respondents, who are working professionals in the 22-45 age bracket, from five major Indian cities.

As layoffs and pay cuts in the wake of the pandemic have impacted people’s cash flows, Indians have become more cautious about how they spend their money.

Here’s a look at the key findings of aspects that have taken a backseat in the wake of the pandemic and which are more important than ever.

Given the uncertainty about falling victim to the virus and the ensuing healthcare expenses, especially since private hospitals have reportedly been charging outrageous amounts for treatment (read more here), health has emerged as the top-most aspiration of Indians with 84 points.

The six aspirations that the study looked at are health, image, wealth, personal growth, fame and relationships.

Health surged well ahead of the rest, and the report states that this is a clear indication of how the covid-19 pandemic has changed the social behaviour of individuals and compelled them to re-evaluate their priorities, turning the focus away from material aspirations like fame and image to health, both mental and physical.

Another interesting shift is that personal growth as an aspiration gained four points, bringing it up to 77.3 and at par with relationships, which also stood at 77.3. Both outstripped wealth, which was at 76.3. The change is notable because in the last year’s report, personal growth was at the bottom of the pack.

As the pandemic has forced people to look inwards, focus on their interests and skills, as well as prioritize their families and relationships, wealth aspirations too seem to have taken a back seat.

“The six aspirations had a more equitable distribution in the previous years. However, this year, health has emerged the clear winner leaving all others behind. Faced with a global pandemic, people are reordering their priorities, and their top aspirations reflect their core concerns: health, personal growth and relationships,” said Aparna Mahesh, chief marketing officer (CMO), BankBazaar.

Family and health-oriented goals are at the top of the list in this year’s survey, with a clear focus on mental and physical well being, nutrition and children’s education.

When it comes to wealth aspirations, there has been a clear shift as well. In the previous years’ surveys, owning a home was the most important goal for most, however, this year, buying early retirement has emerged as the most important goal.

“Even when it comes to wealth, the most important goal is early retirement, and not acquiring assets. The economic impact of the lockdown has resulted in a more cautious population that’s still saving up for big financial and personal milestones but is putting aside these big purchases for the future,” said Mahesh.

Given the state of uncertainty surrounding health matters as well as people’s financial futures, it’s no wonder that the two main priorities are health and securing their retirement. Personal growth and family ties also seem to have gained renewed importance in these trying times.

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